I would have chosen Roger just because of the Caramel-Apple Sucker. And because he was neat enough to throw the wrapper and the stick in the garbage can on his way out. Henrik’s untouched coffee cup still sat perilously close to the edge of the table where it provided a constant distraction.
I’d watched the fire bubbling up in Roger’s chocolate irises somehow paralyze below his long lashes and dancing brows. I’d been mesmerized by the curls visibly unfurl just a hint in his ebony mop. I knew Roxanne was drinking in his mocha face as he built dreams out of words and spun possibilities out of numbers.
Telly was calculating the worth of the Ted Baker suit and the Gucci shoes. Unfortunately, for Roger, they weren’t his. Roger had tried to dress up in his Moore’s Men’s Special and those Nike slip-ons but the board for our refugee ministry was still drooling from their recent interview with Henrik.
Roger was willing to work within the means we had to offer. Henrik’s demands would put us seriously at financial risk. Roger was new to the country, eager, looking for experience, willing to please, ready to sign. Henrik was a snake charmer and we were his Cobras. He lulled us Medusa-like until we swooned. He had to weigh a dozen opportunities and get back to us.
The short list for our executive director was down to the final three. Imran had wide international experience with the United Nations Humanitarian branch throughout the middle-east. He was firmly entrenched in his current agency. Henrik had experience leading an organization that had operated in over 30 countries. He was looking for something more. Roger was one of the people we were trying to help. All he had was passion and four kids.
“Passion is not enough.” David made his pronouncement once the door had clicked behind Roger.
“He understands the people we’re trying to help,” I countered in his defense. I did a clockwise scan around the old oak conference table.
My gaze took in Jazmin. She sat, emblazoned like a flower garden in her purple sari. Originally from Pakistan. Familiar with the pain and struggles of the international scene. She’d probably hold out for Imran.
Telly was next. Jamaican and in love with all the freedom of her new home. Henrik was her choice.
James was a mystery. Korean. Still a bachelor. Impressed by few. Fixated on the costs. Unsure about people who couldn’t work harder to sort out their own issues. No one fit his profile.
Betty’s Spanish flavor came through not only in her thick accent but in the spicy way she handled life. Her compassionate soul tugged her to cheer for the underdog. I knew I could count on her for Roger. The fact that his kids had given him Caramel Apple Pops for all of us twigged her mother’s heart.
“Anyone else want to say something?” David had a marshmallow heart but he scowled like a bull-dog and that threw off people who didn’t know him. I focused on the violet birth mark sitting like a crescent moon at the top of his right cheek bone. It seemed to rise and fall a little in rhythm with his twitching eye.
“What about their faith?” Esperanza raised her head from off the table where she had rested on her hands. Henrik had declared himself a believer who went to church as often as he could. Imran was a new believer adapting to the expectations of the community. Roger’s family had been in Latin American churches since he was born.
Patricia cleared her throat. She’d left the Congo years ago and finished her transition but she hadn’t forgotten what it took to make it. Her large glasses gave her that owl-like look and I waited for her words of wisdom. “Vote.”
I picked up my piece of paper like I was one of the losing Survivor team who had to vote someone off the island. Henrik didn’t look like he really wanted the job. Imran didn’t look like he was really available. Roger was willing and available and the right price. All he needed was mentoring.
That would have been my job. We needed someone who could take this organization forward. Someone who had connections. Someone who knew the ropes. I scribbled the name.
David collected the papers, unfolded them and began to read the names. Telly tallied. I watched my paper. Henrik – three, Roger-three. Last one. My vote. Henrik.
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